She had taken time to heal and then waited for the Mines Superintendent to inform her where the worst damage was occurring now. This mine seemed to be a nesting ground for the yvyrms and so Nikola had traveled to the mine to attempt to clear them out. She was alone except for her faithful golem who accompanied her this time. She had sent her cats, Hunter and Trapper, out to help hunt for the yvyrms and together they had found four of them. Sending the cats back to wait in safety outside the mines, she and her golem entered the mouth of the mine, creating a ball of light with her power and sending it overhead to light the area around them, turning the dark interior into a brightly lit battle ground. She heard the shuffling of several bodies in the darkness just outside the edge of the light and smiled. The noises they made sounded both frightened and angry. “Good,” she thought, as she raised her weapons, ready to strike. In her right hand she carried her aquamarine encrusted sword. In her left, a diamond axe. No shield for her, but she had chosen to wear full armor, the gold plates enchanted for protection and durability by her beloved TK. Her golem stood stoically at her side, prepared to join in the battle.
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She felt a surge of power in her sword as the first yvyrm (Rvqngfgbtdks) came into view. She attacked with her sword and fired off a Psyonic Blast. The scream of pain told her she had wounded it and the shaking of its head assured her she had blinded it as well. Power surged through her sword again as the yvyrm attacked blindly, its body appendages grazing Nikola’s leg. As she healed herself, the yvyrm screamed in dismay as he received the same wound on his own body, an effect of her Trade Off skill.
She did not have time to revel in that result, however, as she saw a movement in her peripheral vision to the left. She struck out with her axe and fired off a Psyonic Blast, both of which found their mark, wounding the yvyrm (Mrqkbgztydyx) who squealed in rage and attacked with its body appendages, whacking Nikola. Her training seemed to give her extra strength and power and again, this one taking the same damage to its own body that it had inflicted on Nikola.
Another small body flung itself at her from the left again, and she swung her axe while firing off a Psyonic Blast, blinding and wounding the creature. It returned the attack, blinding flailing its limbs at Nikola and managing to graze her leg, but it squealed in dismay as she fended off the attack and a graze appeared on its own body, causing it to scramble to safety outside the ring of light.
She had but a moment to catch her breath and a surge through her sword warned of an attack from the right. A yvyrm (Kkfqtwryzxgy) attacked with its body appendages and nicked her, but she fended him off using her sword and firing off a Psynoic Blast. Not only did she manage to whack him soundly, but another wound appeared on its body mirroring what it had done to Nikola.
Another surge of power went through her sword as she was attacked head on by a yvyrm who whacked Nikola with its body appendages. She swung her sword deftly and whacked it, blinding it with a Psyonic Blast. The Trade Off skill caused a separate wound to appear on its body, again mirroring the damage it had done to her.
Meanwhile, her golem attacked and nicked one of the creatures (Rvqngfgbtdks) who used a plain axe to whack the golem. The golem did not linger with that one but wheeled around to fend off another (Mrqkbgztydyx), each whacking the other soundly. Golems are not particularly swift in their movements, but they are tough and difficult to damage. Some are dumb creatures who simply follow instinct without thinking. This golem, however, was not one of those. He had been trained for battle and knew well how to fight.
As the next creature (Swbvgqyymtfn) flung itself at him, attacking with his appendages and nicking the golem, he responded and lightly wounded it as it attempted to flee. Another one (Kkfqtwryzxgy) attacked from behind the golem and whacked him. The golem turned around and whacked it with his huge fist, sending the creature flying outside the ring of light. Before he had straightened himself, the next creature (Dmbfkhgxwrps) attacked and nicked the golem’s leg. The golem kicked at the yvyrm, lightly wounding it as it tried to flee.
Several paces away, the creature (Rvqngfgbtdk) wielding a plain axe attacked and grazed Nikola with the edge of the axe, but she used her diamond axe to wound him while firing off a Psyonic Blast. She whirled around at the sound of running behind her and fended off an attack by a second yvyrm (Mrqkbgztydyx), swinging her diamond axe and firing off a Psyonic Blast, wounding and blinding him but not before it had managed to graze her with one of its appendages.
Another yvyrm (Swbvgqyymtfn) came at her, swinging a plain axe and grazed her as she swung her diamond axe at it and fired of a Psyonic Blast, wounding and blinding the creature as it voiced its rage and pain.
Feeling another surge of power through her sword, she swung at the next body that flung itself at her (Kkfqtwryzxgy), whacking and blinding it as it whacked her with a solid blow to the abdomen. Fortunately, her armor took most of the force of the blow and although she stumbled back a step, she was largely unhurt.
Another surge of power through her sword warned of the approach on her left from one of the creatures (Dmbfkhgxwrps). It attacked and whacked her with another solid blow across her thigh, but she swung her diamond axe and whacked him just as she felt another surge of power through her sword. She turned to see the Golem pounding several of the creatures at once, killing the first (Rvqngfgbtdks) who dropped its plain axe as it fell to the ground and did not move again.
The golem then attacked and smashed another (Mrqkbgztydyx) with his fist, pounding him into mush where it had stood prepared to attack. Enraged, the dead yvyrm’s companion (Swbvgqyymtfn) threw itself at the golem and nicked him before the golem could shake himself free. The golem roared defiantly and with a sickening thud, smashed his fist into the creature and sent it flying across the space where it crashed into the wall and slid to the ground, unmoving. The golem roared again and stomped on one of the few remaining yvyrms (Kkfqtwryzxgy) and pounding the next one (Dmbfkhgxwrps) into the ground, killing them both.
The creature that the golem had thrown against the wall revived, seeking to crawl off into the darkness, but Nikola saw it and rushed to attack it with her axe, following up with a Psyonic Blast for good measure to make sure it was dead.
Whirling around, her eyes searched the darkness surrounding the killing ground and listened carefully for any sounds of living creatures. She could neither hear nor see anything. She signaled to the cats to come in and search the area. Both bounded into the mine and then stalked the shadows, their movements silent and stealthy. She and her golem remained in attention, both checking the shadows around them for any sign of movement, but there was nothing to see. She relaxed with both cats sauntered back into the light, their relaxed posture telling Nikola that there were no more yvyrms to be seen. At least for now.
She scratched the heads of the two cats and smiled as each purred in turn. Hunter began to bathe herself as Trapper crouched like a sphinx, watching the shadows, his tail relaxed except for the tip which twitched back and forth. His ears showed no sign of danger or even curiosity, so Nikola was fairly certain that the battle was over. She went around to check on the yvyrm bodies, making sure they were all dead before cleaning off her sword and sheathing it and then cleaning the axe and placing it back in its harness.
The golem bent to the task of collecting the bodies of the yvyrm and took them outside the mine. Nikola followed him out, trailed by the two cats and sucked in several breaths of the fresh air as she released the ball of light, returning darkness to the mine. The inside of the mines had been musty in the beginning, and stank of sweat, blood, and death by the time they vacated it. It was good to be back out in daylight where the air was clean and fresh. As the golem laid out what was left of the yvyrm, Nikola noticed several small cuts and nicks on the golem’s legs. She knew he did not feel pain the way she did, but the wounds would need to be repaired before he tried to fight again. “I will cover those cuts with fresh mud from the banks of the inlet,” she told him and began to strip off her armor.
Even though the sun was warm, it felt blessedly cool to be free of the armor, clothed only in shirt and trousers, both damp with sweat and blood. The blood was not much as none of her wounds were major, but there were several of them. TK would have had poultices to heal her quickly, but as he was not here, she would have to heal on her own. She could feel the light in her body already encouraging her flesh to mend and knew she would be mostly whole by morning.
While she examined the yvyrm, the golem set to building a fire. She removed quite a bit of coin, totaling over 137 freznics. As she finished her examination and stood back to her feet, the golem lumbered over and stretched his arm out to her, holding the axe that the yvyrm had used in the battle. She took it and examined it carefully. Its edge was nicked and dull, but it appeared solidly built. Her whet stone should take care of the edge and then it would serve well as a practice axe.
“Go ahead and burn them,” she instructed the golem. “I’ll go down to the water and gather what I need to repair you.” He nodded and moved to the yvyrm. She did not stay to watch him toss the carcasses on the fire, but immediately went down to the water’s edge. The mine was located very near to the inlet that flowed from a freshwater lake located northeast of their position out into the sea to the west. The earth along the sides and edges of the inlet was composed of a rich loam that should adhere well to the golem’s flesh. He was made from earth not too different from this and as she gathered a sack full of the earth along with a jug of clear water from the inlet, she considered how to reward the golem for his contribution to the battle.
She was still considering this when she returned to their campsite. After removing a wooden bowl from her pack, she poured some of the earth she had gathered into the bowl, and then added water, mixing them together with her hands. She alternately added more dirt, then a bit more water until the mixture was at the right consistency. “Come, stand over here so I can tend your wounds,” she bade him and waited for him to stand next to where she sat. Examining his body, she applied the mud to each of the wounds, working it into the crevices and then wiping the area smooth. He would need to stand near the fire to let the heat bake it into his flesh, but once the mud had baked, it would become part of his body just as the rest of him. Once he was baking in front of the fire, she placed the sack containing the remaining earth and put it with the rest of her gear. They would scout again in the morning and if they found more yvyrms, they would need to fight again. Otherwise, they would be free to return home.
“Golem,” she approached the large creature as she returned to the fire, “I have been thinking. Do you have a name?” she asked as she tore of a chunk of bread from her food stores with her teeth and took out a knife to cut into the wheel of cheese from her pack. The golem stood still and stared down at her with glowing eyes. “No,” he answered. She nodded and popped a chunk of cheese into her mouth, chewing as she considered her next words. “Would you like a name?” she asked and watched him as she bit off another mouthful of bread.
Golems did not have expressive faces like humanoid creatures did, but she could tell he was surprised by her question. “Golem not need name,” he responded, a hint of confusion in his eyes. Nikola smiled and swallowed her mouthful. “But would you like one? It seems impolite to call you Golem after we have battled and defeated all our foes together,” she said. He looked away from her, staring into the distance, his eyes glowing as he appeared to give this some thought. Without moving or looking down at her, he finally spoke. “Golem not need name," he hesitated. “If golem has name, is bound to name giver forever.”
Nikola started, surprised by his words. Frowning, she wanted to make sure she understood. “Are you saying that if I give you a name and you accept it, then you are bound to me? Like a slave? Or what exactly?” She did not want him to serve her as a slave or out of compulsion. Perhaps naming him was a bad idea.
“Not slave. Bonded. If golem accept name, he serve only name giver,” the golem rumbled quietly. “But you serve me now, do you not?” she asked, confused.
“Truth. But golem can leave, serve other or be own master,” he explained in his rumbling voice. She could not tell how he felt about that and fell silent as she considered the meaning of his words. She took another mouthful of bread with a chunk of cheese and chewed thoughtfully as she stared into the fire. At last, she spoke. “Then I will not name you. I had thought to honor you with a name but did not realize what that would mean to you. You should be free to stay or go as you wish. You are a worthy golem, and I would not seek to bind you to me as anything but a friend,” she told him.
They did not speak again while he baked, and she ate her meal of bread, cheese, and an apple. Once she had finished, she cleaned her knife, rewrapped the wheel of cheese, and put them away in her pack. The apple core she tossed away for the birds or animals to finish off. Once that was done, she came back to check on the golem’s wounds. The mud was baking as it needed to but was still too soft for her liking. “I think you may need to stand here until the fire dies down to allow the mud to bake to perfection,” she decided. He nodded once to indicate his agreement and she went to bed down for the night. It was early yet, but it had been an energetic battle and she had used her power quite a bit and felt drained from the effort. Her body had been nourished and now needed sleep to finish regenerating. The cats would warn her if any creature dared to approach the camp. They both snuggled up with her and she turned onto her side watching the golem stand and bake until her eyelids closed and she fell into a deep slumber.
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